By Robert Singletary
Fort Sherman was officially closed on March 9, 1900, after being in operation more than twenty years. In 1901, the grounds and buildings were turned over to the Department of Interior for disposal. Several attempts were made to save the fort but none materialized. Finally, on June 6, 1905, the land and buildings were sold at a public auction. According to the June 6, 1905 issue of the Coeur d’Alene Press, the sale of Fort Sherman attracted a large crowd and lasted for three days. By the end of the third day, some 50 buildings and almost a thousand acres of the military reservation had been sold. Much of the land next to Lake Coeur d’Alene and the Spokane River was sold to lumber companies. Several acres were donated to the city of Coeur d’Alene, which eventually became the city park. The burial grounds for the fort was also deeded to the city.
Several prominent businessmen from Coeur d’Alene and Spokane purchased some of the lots along with several buildings. Thomas Kerl and David Ham from Spokane purchased the post commander’s home and the post chapel. Kerl and his family lived in the house for many years. He and Ham organized the Sherman Park Addition and began selling lots. By 1920, several homes had been built in the new addition. Many of those homes are still in existence. The Fort Sherman Chapel has its own history. The chapel and the brick powder magazine is closely tied to the history of the Museum of North Idaho. In 1970, North Idaho College purchased the powder magazine from the Idaho Forest Industries and leased it rent-fee to the Museum. Through the effort of many volunteers, the Museum opened its doors in the old powder magazine on July 28, 1973. In 1984, the Athletic Round Table, who owned the chapel, donated it to the Museum.
Some of the Fort Sherman buildings were purchased and moved off the fort grounds to other locations. Two of the largest buildings, the hospital and the opera house, were moved to Ninth Street and Indiana, where they were used as classrooms and residences for the nuns of IHM Academy. These building were in use until the late 1950s. Today, the fort chapel, powder magazine and one of the officer’s quarters are still in use. Recently, the chapel was damaged by a large tree that landed on top of the building during a violent wind storm.
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